I had made the decision to cancel my planned trip back to Toronto for Golden Week around mid-March (a little more than a week after the earthquake, when it seemed like the Shinkansen might take two months or more to be repaired) but didn't actually cancel the plane tickets until today.
When I first called Air Canada, their policy was that full refunds would only be offered for departures up to March 28th. For anything after that, regular cancellation fees (30,000yen per person) would be applied. Change fees would be waived (although fare differences would be charged) for planned departures up to April 30th. I considered re-booking for Christmas but since the tickets were at least $200 more expensive than the tickets I had booked, it didn't seem worth it.
Since I could cancel up to the day before the scheduled departure (April 28), I figured I would just wait and see if Christmas flight prices would drop. (And if they didn't, well, I'd still be paying the same cancellation fee anyway, so it wasn't like I was losing anything by waiting.)
But then on March 24th, when I was checking prices for Christmas prices, I noticed that Air Canada had changed its policy for flights to/from Narita--the cancellation fees were being waived for flights up to April 10th.
When I saw that, I had hope that Air Canada would eventually change their policy to enable me to cancel my April 29th flight without charge. Since then I've been checking the Air Canada website almost every day.
And the waiting game has finally paid off!! As of yesterday (April 6th), the policy was changed so that cancellation and change fees for flights booked before March 11th for travel until April 30th would be waived (although for re-booking (to Japan/Asia), fare differences would apply).
I was so excited, I let out a fairly loud "YES!" while I was sitting in the teachers' room at Kirita.
The teacher across from me was surprised, so I briefly explained the situation. He was probably wondering why I was making such a big deal out of it, but really, 30,000 yen is no small chunk of change.
And even though I can understand logically why Air Canada's policy was set up the way it was (the airport and planes were able to run/fly as usual and businesses can't be expected to make exceptions for people's personal situations), emotions aren't logical, so it was really really bugging me that I had to pay a cancellation fee for a trip that I really was only canceling because of the earthquake.
But thankfully, Air Canada's policy did change, so now I'm perfectly happy with the airline again. Although, I did have a bad moment when I called reservations to make the cancellation. At first, the lady I spoke to was like, "You can cancel, but there's a 30,000 yen per person cancellation fee."
Which of course made me go: "HUH?!" It took about an extra five minutes or so, but after I told her what the website policy said, she was eventually able to confirm that I could indeed get a full refund. *Phew*
Even though I thought that it was best to cancel the trip, I did regret that I'd have to pay the cancellation fee. But now I can feel fully at ease/peace with my decision.